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This year, I’ve shared inspiring stories of organizations responding to adversity by building digital resilience into the fabric of their operations and cultures. A common thread between these organizations is the agility to be better prepared for change, as well as the ability to stay focused on putting customers first.

That’s why it’s apropos to close the year by spotlighting Grant Thornton, a public accounting and advisory firm that, at the start of the pandemic, rapidly adjusted operating and client engagement models—from selling and engaging clients remotely, to focusing services on those that will have the most immediate and beneficial impact in a time of crisis.

Grant Thornton’s journey to transform sales and customer service delivery is a testament to just how far digital sales tools have evolved in recent years—and how the right platform can help client engagement teams to guide customers at the most crucial times of need.

A shift to digital selling pays off in deeper customer engagements

Organizations in 135 countries depend on Grant Thornton’s expertise and insights to prepare for the future, whether applying new technologies or digital transformation, understanding shifting regulatory landscapes, and tax and advisory services.

In 2018, Grant Thornton had the foresight to reimagine how to engage customers and build deeper relationships. Microsoft Relationship Sales, which brings together Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, helped them to build customer relationships at scale.

Nichole Jordan, Grant Thornton’s Central Region Managing Partner, shared how the solution had transformed the business at the 2019 Microsoft Business Applications Summit. “We believe it’s critical to monitor the health of the relationship with our clients at all times and using technology is the best way to be able to do that,” explain Jordan, citing the relationship sales solution enables teams to understand the sentiment of the relationships at all times.

Jordon shared that LinkedIn Sales Navigator was making a big impact on the depth and breadth of relationships. “Those teams that have more LinkedIn connections with their particular customer base have a higher win rate and an increased amount of sales versus those who don’t. We can see that the technology is helping us to better understand these companies, build deeper relationships and wider across the entire organization.”

Dynamics 365 Sales introduced a constant stream of intelligence to Grant Thornton teams around the globe, tracking changes at client organizations, from personnel to mergers and acquisitions, to customer and competitive trends, “providing automated insights and research to Grant Thornton partners twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” said Jordan. “These alerts go to our partners on their phones so they are constantly getting the latest about our client base so that they can provide more relevant information for them.”

Responding to a global crisis—one customer at a time

When the pandemic struck, Grant Thornton had to rapidly pivot priorities. “It was critical that we could reach out to our clients,” explained Jordan, in a recent conversation with Chris Weber, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, “to be there for them, to listen, to learn, and to offer help.”

Chris Weber and Nicole Jordan smiling at the camera.

Jordan shared with Weber how Grant Thornton leveraged its digital sales tools to help its team keep customer relations personal and impactful in the face of emerging challenges.

The first step was to reach out to its extensive customer base. “In our business we don’t regularly send messages to all of our customers so this was a first and we really relied very heavily on our Microsoft relationship and our customer relationship management (CRM) system with Dynamics 365, just our central repository for all of our customer contact information, so we started there.”

Sales staff offered clients a complimentary pandemic resiliency tool, a risk assessment dashboard that helps quantify risk through data-driven analysis across multiple impact zones and risk factors, plus tailored benchmarking by competitor or industry. “In order to leverage the tool—we had to dig in deep to the relationships that we had. And to do that we leveraged our CRM, so we were fully engaged in Dynamics 365,” explained Jordan.

The sales team is also continuing to leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator, as well as Microsoft Power Platform. “All of our teams have access to our sales pipeline management through Microsoft Power BI,” said Jordan, “that gets updated every night and our teams have access to it every morning. So it’s built into their routine—to be able to access the pipeline and the wins and the losses, and helps them understand the winning areas so that we can double down on that and bring that value across other clients.”

The sales team is also exploring Microsoft Power Apps to help target sales opportunities. For example, enabling teams to quickly pull up previous engagements that helped banks solve regulatory challenges, which could then be replicated at a different client or industry sector.

Real results

This combination of digital selling tools, from Dynamics 365 to Power Platform and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, has resulted in markedly improved business outcomes, according to Jordan.

The teams are able to connect with a broader number of clients and deepen relationships widely across an organization. They can prioritize opportunities that have a higher likelihood of winning. And they can do it all with speed and accuracy, enabling teams to respond to opportunities faster, including delivering proposals in days, rather than weeks.

“The technology improves our speed, it improves our accuracy with all that we’re doing, it’s helping us connect more broadly with clients, and it’s helping us focus our time, our money and our resources on areas where we can really bring the greatest value to clients and where we can win as a firm.”

Get the full story

Watch a demo or take a guided tour to see how Dynamics 365 Sales can empower your sellers with actionable insights. To learn more about how Grant Thornton has deepened engagements with customers, read the full story and watch the full conversation between Nichole Jordan and Chris Weber.

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